The Copper Trail Day 3

Summer returns but for one day only.

Starting point for catching the first bus of two was the attractive village of St Neot. Note the large branch hanging off the left hand side of the church tower. All will be explained below.

After two gruelling days walking the Copper Trail, day three would by something a bit easier. It would also be the shortest of the four days walking but it would mean a late start due to the infrequent bus services.The earliest bus I could catch from St Neot was 10.10am and this only went to Liskeard which was quite convenient for my second bus to Upton Cross.
I arrived in St Neot with plenty of time to spare and so had time to wander around the village and take a look at the church. At the top of the church tower there is something rather unusual whereby there is a branch of an oak tree hanging over the edge as if blown there by some gale. It transpires that a oak branch is placed there each year on Oak Apple Day which is the 29th May. During the English Civil War St Neot was staunchly Royalist, and this symbolises the historical allegiance.

Bus number 283 arrived on time and initially I was the only passenger. At Liskeard, I had a forty minute wait before the next bus so I had a wander around the town and had my morning break in the churchyard. Bus number 236 took me to Upton Cross but rather than making the expected turn towards Rilla Mill as on the previous day, it went ahead at the crossroads taking me by surprise and I had to hurriedly ask the driver to stop. These rural bus services go different ways each day and some communities get only one or two services a week and hence careful planning on the internet prior was essential.

The Hurlers Stone Circles date from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age and now used by moorland ponies at itching posts.

From Upton Cross I decided to walk up to Minions via a different route and headed south first along a short section of the B3254 before taking a good path which soon contoured along the lower northern slope of Caradon Hill. I later joined the road into Minions which surprisingly doesn’t have a bus service but is a popular spot with tourists as the Cheesewring and Hurlers Stone Circle are nearby. I headed off to the latter which consist of three stone circles located on a grassy slope. Dating from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, these stone circles arranged in a line are unique in England. A local legend says that the stones are remains of men petrified for playing hurling on a Sunday. Today however, the stones are a useful itching post for the moorland ponies. The Cheesewring is a curious natural rock feature consisting of smooth weathered granite rocks perched on top of one another. On this occasion I didn’t make the diversion to it.

Heading south out of Minions my route follows these ancient stone railway sleepers for some distance.

There is much evidence of the former mine workings around Minions.

Rain was again in the air but thankfully it didn’t come to anything. I backtracked into Minions then followed the Copper Trail south following a disused railway track bed with stone sleepers. This area was the most industrialised I had seen this week with numerous spoil heaps and old mine buildings and chimneys. I reached a lane prior to Crow’s Nest and turned left then right in the hamlet. It was a welcome change to have some reasonable sunshine. At Trenough I headed west on a very narrow lane and soon came across something that I had long been expecting. What happens when you meet a large vehicle in a very narrow lane? It was only a Mercedes Sprinter but the driver had to stop as I squeezed alongside the vehicle, ducking under the wing mirror. I was soon at Trethevy Quoit, a ancient monument dating from about 4,500 BC. It was quite an impressive sight and as it was sunny I visited this first before resigning to a nearby seat for a late lunch. It was most pleasant in the sunshine and this is how Cornwall should be in August. A tractor was cutting the hedge in the lane nearby and repeatably returned to the road junction to turn around.

A highlight of the walk was a visit to the impressive Trethevy Quoit which dates from 4500BC.

Farm yard at West Draynes was one of many such attractive farms past where life doesn’t appear to have changed for centuries.

For the afternoon leg of my walk, I took a narrow enclosed path west to reach a road which I crossed to join a road and soon I turned right on a narrow lane and later path ascending to Higher Tremarcoombe. Once over a road I followed a farm drive then path and now it was time to get the secateurs out to clear a few brambles. Heading west next I now followed a farm track then path across level meadows which I could imagine could be wet in winter. Reaching Common Moor, I walked between a cluster of small holdings and little cottages tucked away and for now, way finding was quite easy. The path later ran beside a small stream and was well wooded and enclosed. I crossed the road from Siblyback Reservoir and continued west and was glad of the large scale map and instructions from my guide as so called stiles were not clear, just stones projecting from walls. Bulland Down was next crossed and was full of bracken but there did seem to be a right of way or perhaps I was just lucky that I chose the right route. I emerged by the popular car park at Golitha Falls and it was the first time I had seen any tourists since leaving Minions. Rather than divert and visit the falls, I instead followed the narrow and often busy lane via Draynes to Lower Tranant. Here I turned right to take a woodland track and later path ascending towards Lower Bowden. Emerging from the woods I had a field of restless cows and calves to contend with. Why do they seem so scared? A right turn at Lower Bowden took me along a lane before I turned left to cross the very rough moorland which forms Berry Down. I wanted to visit the trig point which meant ploughing through bracken and uneven ground to reach the top. I couldn’t see anything much of the ancient hill fort under the thick overgrown vegetation. The sunshine had all but gone so there wasn’t much point resting on this cold breezy summit. I now should have retraced my steps but instead headed south with the aim of rejoining my path. This was easier said than done as the vegetation was nearly head high bracken mixed with gorse and bouldery ground. It took awhile to force my way through but eventually I spotted a way-marker and so headed for that. I soon reached a lane which I crossed but had to clear brambles from the stile on the other side. Field walking followed which for once was easy as I descended towards St Neot. This was followed by a mucky lane frequented by cows moving between fields and the milking parlour. Finally a track was taken on the left which later made a rough descent into St Neot. It was now time to head to Morrison’s in Bodmin to get an early evening meal in their cafe.